As I coach more people through high-conflict divorce battles, I have come to see just how terrorized they are feeling. Living in the same city and sometimes even the same house with your terrorist ex is like having a cortisol sandwich every few hours. It takes its toll until you learn to become untouchable.
Can you be okay if your ex is angry?
I have started to wonder if it is really necessary to feel so terrorized. What if it was totally okay for your ex to rage? What if it didn’t matter if your ex isn’t happy? How might that look?
I imagine it might be loud, and there might be a lot of stomping or yelling. There might be a lot of threats. Kind of like how a toddler behaves when you say “no” to them in a candy store. Noisy and messy but actually not a problem if you decide it doesn’t have to be one.
There could actually be threatening behaviour if your ex gets mad enough. But maybe that also isn’t a problem if you decide in advance that you will call the police if you feel endangered.
Your kids might be exposed to their other parent’s ire. In reality, they know it exists, because they have been watching you for years tiptoeing around to avoid igniting the flame. They too can learn that the anger isn’t really a problem.
Whatever your ex says and does is neutral
Recently a client was describing some of the things that her ex does that makes her feel terrorized. He uses hand gestures to mimic a gun, or he makes comments to her about the litigation. I asked her why she felt so terrorized when he did those things or said those words. I might not feel terrorized if he did that to me. Why is that?
It’s all because of how we interpret his actions. I might find some of the hand gestures amusing if I think he is being a moron. She feels threatened because she thinks he is capable of really destroying her.
Same gestures…different interpretation. The hand gesture itself is neutral. What you think about it is what creates the feeling – perhaps terrorized, perhaps amused. The thoughts in your brain will determine how you feel when your ex does the things that he or she does.
The opposite of terrorized is untouchable
I asked this client how she wants to feel living at home with her ex. Her answer was amazing! She told me that she wants to feel “untouchable”. Untouchable means unaffected by the ex’s shenanigans.
This is the feeling I would like us all to aspire to. Untouchable.
It means, whatever your ex says and does – you be the boss of your brain, and decide what you are going to think about it. I suggest you decide that none of what your ex says or does is a problem. It is just not significant or relevant to you anymore. It no longer has to affect you. You get to decide if the behaviour warrants police intervention or being shrugged off.
Put on your cape
Every day, when you have a moment to yourself, have a little chat with your brain. Remind your brain that your ex’s behaviour is just a neutral circumstance. You can decide it is no big deal.
It is up to you to determine you will no longer be affected by his/her shenanigans. You are the barometer of your house and if you feel untouchable, by osmosis your kids will too. Put on your cape and think of me every morning. Let’s be untouchable together.